Reviewed – 19th October 2017
“Kate Tulloch performed with a viscerality that demanded not only our attention, but our hearts”
Howard Barker is not an easy playwright to master. A master of eloquence and wit, with a cutting use of profanity that would make a stripper blush, it is easy for his language to overtake the performance, leaving the audience left in a syntactical labyrinth. For The Castle, however, this was certainly not the case, The complex and broken language was treated with simplicity and emotion, resulting in a fascinating and engaging piece.
Performances were largely phenomenal and casting of the larger roles seemed fitting, with a few exceptions. For a linguistically challenging playwright like Barker, vocal training and projection is elemental in successfully getting across the story. For some of the actors, the vastness of the space combined with a naturalistic performance style sometimes proved challenging and some sections of text were lost entirely. Yet the importance of vocal performance was evident in those that were most engaging; Kate Tulloch and Anthony Cozens.
As the male lead, with huge passages of text, Anthony Cozens handled the character of Stucley phenomenally, with elements of a more versatile David Tennant. The performance of Kate Tulloch as Skinner was a stunning experience to witness. With a physicality that took over the stage, she performed with a viscerality that demanded not only our attention, but our hearts; pulling the audience along her narrative trajectory with a bold and daring force with which no one can argue.
The set is largely symbolic, built around the performance space, this suitability brought the piece an additional layer of realism, building upon rather than altering the theatre. A similar enhancement was utilised with tech, feeling almost as if the audio could have solely been an amplification of the echoes of the theatre’s lofty ceilings. Costume and props, for me, were a questionable aspect of the performance, as their simplicity seemed to attempt naturalism and failed miserably, a little like a school nativity. A more symbolic use of colour or material may have better suited the slick performances and text.
The Castle at The Space is a beautifully constructed production, delivering a complex narrative and text spectacularly, I absolutely recommend this production for those less familiar with Barker’s work. Standout performances matched with Adam Hemming’s accessible and streamlined direction makes this production a credit to the entire team.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey
Photography by Ellamae Cieslik
is at The Space until 28th October